One Million Frogs is an entertaining twist on start-up entrepreneurship that chronicles our challenging and often ridiculously comical journey and personal transformations while starting and growing one very unlikely frog company. Forget the MBA study guides and D.I.Y. entrepreneur books, with One Million Frogs, we are giving you an inspirational road map through our experiences and real-life antidotes that are at times troubling, emotional, comical and unbelievable ... and always memorable and useful. In the end, these lessons will provide you the tools to solve your business challenges.
In 2006, after years working as business and economic development consultants overseas, with comfortable salaries, minimal expenses, fantastic benefits, and the freedom to travel the world as part of our job, we resigned and set out on the chaotic, inflexible and uncertain endeavor of owning a small business.
I know. Crazy, right?
Back then, we would connect every few months, during a project meeting or retreat, and inevitably end our day discussing our consulting projects over shashlyk, pizza, local brews and 80’s pop music. The more we got to know each other, the more we discovered that while we really liked our jobs, we didn’t love them. More than that, we both had a burning ambition to become entrepreneurs and were living vicariously through the enthusiastic entrepreneurs we consulted.
Over time, we devised a plan to act on our entrepreneurial ambitions. We had the experience, the knowledge and training, the professional network, and of course the driving passion to be entrepreneurs. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, as it turns out, anything and everything.
We returned to the US, settled in South Carolina, and set out to grown an empire (why else get into business, right?). We started a company called Wild Creations, with a single product called the EcoAquarium, a desktop ecosystem aquarium with two African dwarf frogs. It was to be the flagship product in our global enterprise.
This was not what we expected the entrepreneurial dream to be.
As two over trained business consultants, who cashed in our 401K accounts and mortgaged homes to pursue our dreams, we found ourselves in the worst economic downturn of a generation, and all we had was a frog company ... and each other. For several years, we persevered and did everything we could (and needed) to keep Wild Creations open.
Fast forward three short years ... Wild Creations goes onto become the #1 fastest growing company in South Carolina and #259 fastest growing private company on the Inc500 list.
Ok, maybe a few things happened in between.
This book will chronicle our incredible entrepreneurial journey, and more important, our radical personal transformation from book trained corporate consultants to seasoned entrepreneurs. It is a wonderful story of an unlikely frog business that weathered the greatest financial crisis of a generation and the Great Recession to become an Inc500 company and the fastest growing company in South Carolina. It is about the mistakes, successes and mistakes (did I mention mistakes) we made and the tremendous personal development (and physical trauma) we underwent.
This book is not just for aspiring entrepreneurs but anyone who has or has had grand aspirations to achieve something bigger in life but has been held back by uncertainty or societal peer pressure. This book will inspire you to take chance and pursue your dream ... because if we could pull this off, ANYONE can.
One Million Frogs is for everyone, not just for aspiring entrepreneurs.
If you have ever had a dream or a grander aspiration to achieve something bigger in life but have been held back by the nagging apprehension of failure and uncertainty, this book will resonate with you … because we traveled that road.
Through our story, you will come to understand, like we did, that no failure is so great that it can’t be overcome (or negotiated) through sheer determination. Indeed the greatest failure you will ever make is to never have tried at all.
And, if nothing else, we are positive that you will be entertained by the incredibly emotional, costly and entertaining comedy of errors we encountered along the way.
- Finding the Team: Shashlyk, Pizza and Pevos
- Hatching the Idea: Beers and Bar Napkins
- Starting the Journey: Dead Body Removal
- Forget What You Know: Where’s My 4x4 Matrix?
- Dealing with Employees: My Hair Is On Fire
- Cross Cultural Management: Punches and Kisses
- Getting Back Up: Getting Kicked Down Stairs
- Dream Big: One Million Frogs
- Taking Chances: It’s Up To You, New York
- Never Say No: We’re Doing What?
- Trust But Verify: Casualties of Business
- Confidence Is Key: Swimming with the Sharks
- How To Overcome Failure: Budget For Everything
- How to Lead: Lead, Follow, or Make a New Path
- Future of Entrepreneurship: Conventional Wisdom is so Conventional
- Tips for Newbies: Top Ten List (Bonus: From Both Authors)
Peter Gasca and Rhett Power are the founders of Wild Creations, a small frog aquarium company based in Myrtle Beach, SC.
After meeting as business and economic development consultants with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Enterprise Development Project, the two discovered they had a passion for entrepreneurship. In the summer of 2005, at a pizza shop in Almaty, Kazakhstan, the two began hatching a plan to start their own business.
Not long later, after several failed (albeit fortunate) attempts at getting started, the two were introduced to a small business that assembled and sold miniature desktop ecosystems with frogs. The business showed great promise but had tremendous distribution challenges. It was the atypical business school case study, and Pete and Rhett were ready for the challenge.
The pair started a new company, Wild Creations, and purchased the business concept. With an extensive business plan and strategy for growth, Wild Creations, was to be the first of many successful businesses in their promising portfolio.
Then reality set in.
Lehman Brothers filed bankruptcy and the financial industry collapsed. Wild Creations’ lines of credit dried up and were even taken away. Pete and Rhett, often in financial dire straits, persevered and took to the roads, driving over a hundred thousand miles each in a year and attending trade shows every weekend. They grinded it out until they finally got the break they were waiting for.
Fast forward three years, and Wild Creations’ EcoAquariums™ grew from a modest 50 retail outlets to over 1,500. The company went on to win numerous industry awards, including a nomination as Toy Industry Association Toy of the Year. Wild Creations was recognized by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce as the #1 fastest growing company in South Carolina, and by the Inc500 twice as one of the fastest growing private companies in America. All of these accolades were achieved during the most debilitating financial crisis in a generation.
This is their story … although not told in the third person.
Pete received his MBA from Georgetown University and his BS from Arizona State University. Prior to moving overseas, Pete had a long and successful career in real estate development and still dreams of designing and building his own home. Pete shares his entrepreneurial spirit with his wife, Flyura, and the two have aspirations to start their own after-school program for at risk kids. In his spare time, Pete enjoys brewing (and often ruining) his own beer and playing human jungle gym for his two children. Read more on Pete’s blog or on his column at Inc Magazine.
Rhett holds a MA from the University of South Carolina . He and his wife, Julie, met during a white water canoe trip in college. After graduate school at USC, Rhett volunteered in the Peace Corps, was Habitat for Humanities liaison with Congress and the White House, worked as a radio DJ, and as an international business development expert in Central Asia. While his bucket list has a number of challenges, his top is to sail around the world. His most important responsibility, however, has been raising his two energetic boys, Max and Riley with his wife Julie who is a US Diplomat. Read more on Rhett’s personal blog.
2010 Fastest Growing Company in South Carolina, by SC Chamber of Commerce • 2011 Blue Ribbon Award Top 75 Private US Companies, by US Chamber of Commerce • 2011 Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist, by Ernst and Young • 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year Nominee, Ernst and Young • 2011 Inc. Magazine 500/5000 Fastest Growing Companies in the US, #259 • 2012 Inc. Magazine 500/5000 Fastest Growing Companies in the US, #1,139 • Over 40 national awards in the toy industry for product design, including 2010 Toy of the Year Nominee.
What Your Support Covers
Your contribution will make One Million Frogs a reality by assisting us to meet the self-publishing and editing costs, which can run as much as $20,000. We anticipate partnering with Advantage Publishing, who will provide self-publishing support as well as the following: ISBN Assignment • Channel Distribution to 25K Retailers Worldwide • Cover Design • Personalized Back Cover • Interior Book Design and Page Layout • Image Insertion/Text Treatments • Printing Paperback Copies • Printing Hardcover Copies • E-book Formatting and Distribution • Amazon, Barnes & Noble setup • Personalized Balboa Press Bookstore Detail Page • Editorial Assessment • U.S. Copyright Registration • Library of Congress Control Number • Barnes & Noble See Inside the Book • Google and Amazon Search Program • Book Buyers Preview • Booksellers Return Program • Promotional Material • Social Media Setup • Press Release - Web-Optimized Edition • Website Setup/Design/Hosting/SEO Optimization
Risks and challenges
Running a business such as ours has taught us the importance of delivering on time and what we promise. The project is important to us because we want to tell people about the incredible transformation you go through as a first time entrepreneur.
We intend to delver this project by August 2013 and the only thing that will change that is production and printing time. If we are running behind then we will contact all supporters and give them a revised timeline.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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